African regional organizations such as the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are increasingly engaged in building peace and promoting democratic governance within their member states. The special issue of the South African Journal of International Affairs, guest-edited by Antonia Witt, explores African regional interventions as ‘seen from below’.
By focusing on the practices and politics of those involved in implementing, dealing with, or living under the effects of African interventions it allows the observer to better understand the contested politics of African interventions and disconnects between grand regional architectures and their actual imprints on the ground. Such a shift in perspective, Antonia Witt argues in her introductory article and in the conclusion co-authored with Gilbert Khadiagala, offers important empirical, theoretical, and normative implications for the study of African interventions.
The contributions to this special issue scrutinize different sites and analyze the practices of diverse agents of intervention, ranging from protesting civil society groups to liaison officers and early warning experts. Case studies come from conflicts and regional interventions inter alia in Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar and Mali. The special issue unites contributions from different disciplinary backgrounds written by both researchers and practitioners from across Europe and Africa.
The special issue is the outcome of a workshop organized in January 2017 in Ouagadougou, which was funded under the DFG-Program Point Sud.